Right-hander Tyler Zombro made his return to the mound last night with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate — the first time he pitched in a regular-season game since last season’s horrifying injury. Zombro, struck in the head by a 104 mph comeback liner early last June, underwent emergency brain surgery and had his skull stabilized with 16 plates and 36 screws, as detailed by MLB.com’s Adam Berry. That Zombro fully recovered is a triumph in and of itself, but returning to the mound in less than a year’s time seems nearly impossible to fathom. Last night’s return came on the road against the Norfolk Tides (the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate), and in a particularly classy scene, the entire Tides dugout emptied to laud Zombro with a standing ovation as he took the mound (video link). Zombro’s teammates and many of the fans in attendance followed suit. “That’s been one of the moments that certainly hit me the hardest,” Zombro tells Berry. “…I think it all came kind of full circle there and definitely was a symbol of me ‘completing the journey’ to be back to performing in Triple-A.”
More on the Rays…
- Lefty Ryan Yarbrough made a rehab outing yesterday in hopes of a quick return to the roster, but he retired just one batter, walked four hitters and threw only 10 of his 27 pitches for strikes. Yarbrough, on the shelf since April 8 due to a groin strain, has yet to pitch in a big league game for Tampa Bay so far in 2022. The 30-year-old southpaw is hoping to bounce back from a career-worst year in 2021, when he logged a 5.11 ERA in a career-high 155 frames. He pitched well this spring (one run in 8 1/3 official frames), but it’s not yet clear when he’ll return to the club. Tampa Bay has been (quite successfully) using setup man J.P. Feyereisen as a an opener with Yarbrough, Luis Patino, Shane Baz, Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow and Brendan McKay all on the injured list. The team hasn’t made any kind of formal announcement regarding Yarbrough’s status, but given the short nature of that outing and the ugly results, it’d be a bit of a surprise to see him activated without another rehab appearance.
- Major League Baseball nixed the Rays’ convoluted split-city plan with Montreal back in January, and St. Petersburg mayor Ken Welch now tells John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times that he believes there’s a path forward for the Rays right at home in St. Petersburg. While Romano notes that a move to Tampa is the team’s preferred option, they’ve been unable to work out the necessary funding to facilitate such a move (hence the outside-the-box Montreal plan). Welch notes that the city of St. Petersburg has hired new financial consultants to explore whether the possibility of a mixed-use development similar to the Braves’ Battery development surrounding Truist Park could be plausible. Major funding from Pinellas County’s tourist tax would still be required, but Welch struck an optimistic tone that the team and the city could eventually figure out a workable plan. Of course, there’s been no shortage of optimism regarding various stadium plans in recent years, and the team has nevertheless continually found itself back at square one after each has fallen through. The Rays’ current lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027.